Saints linebacker Junior Galette was arrested and booked on one count of misdemeanor simple battery related to domestic violence today in Kenner, Louisiana, according to Ramon Antonio Vargas of the Advocate. The incident, which reportedly involved Galette and a former college teammate “jumping” a female acquaintance who asked for taxi money, led to Galette being detained at roughly 9am this morning; he was released from jail around 4pm.
In the wake of the Ray Rice scandal earlier this year, the NFL is obviously particularly sensitive to domestic violence issues; as such, it’s fair to wonder if the league could opt to use Galette as something of a poster boy, and use its new policy to come down hard on the star pass-rusher. Under the new standard, Galette is subject to a six-game suspension, although the policy does allow for longer suspension if “mitigating factors” are present. Rice and Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy were both involved in similar episodes earlier in 2014, but as the league had not yet implemented its code when those players came under scrutiny, this could be the NFL’s first chance to show its opposition to domestic violence.
Even if Galette is not found guilty of any crime, he is still subject to league discipline, as Larry Holder of NOLA.com explains. The NFL will not interfere with cases that are being investigated by law enforcement, instead waiting until authorities decide whether to move forward and press formal charges. In such cases, the player will be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list (as in the Adrian Peterson incident), and continue to earn a salary while on leave.
The incident could have an impact of Galette’s future with the Saints, an issue he reportedly referenced while he was being arrested. Per Michelle Hunter of NOLA.com, Galette told officers that he couldn’t “afford to take a domestic violence charge because of his contract.” However, given the parameters of his four-year, $41.5MM deal, this episode probably won’t affect his status with New Orleans. As Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap explained in September, Galette is due a $12.5MM roster bonus on the third day of the 2015 league year — that bonus is fully guaranteed, so even if the Saints part ways with Galette, he’ll still be owed that money. However, it’s possible that Galette’s contract included a clause that nullifies the guarantees in the event of a suspension, as Holder suggests in a separate piece — although such clauses usually refer to PED bans.
According to his representative Lionel Burns, Galette is “concerned about … working to clear his good name, which he has established on and off the football field.” Burns also downplayed the seriousness of the incident, although that’s to be expected from a personal lawyer. “I want to make it clear this is not a Ray Rice-type situation,” said Burns, via Mike Triplett of ESPN.com (Twitter links). “So anyone looking for that type of sensationalism in this unfortunate situation … you’re not going to find it here.”